Thursday, February 24, 2011

90 day Bible update- Trusting in the Lord

Today I read day 55 of the 90 day Bible challenge.  I'm not sure what day I'm supposed to be on according to the reading plan, but I know today I read what I was supposed to, know what I mean?  Isn't it funny how we notice different things at different times of reading the same books in the Bible?  I remember being baffled by eschatalogical themes in Jeremiah the last time I read it and the time before that I was super interested in matching it up with the reign of Josiah and re-discovery of the book of God's Law.  Recently, the Lord has been breaking my heart for the orphan all over again.  It started with Radical:  Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream, and has continued with Reclaiming Adoption, Adopted for Life, and now There is no Me Without You.  Linny at A Place Called Simplicity is holding a day of fasting and prayer today and I've been praying for the orphans of the world, especially the millions of orphans in Africa. 

"Human beings are not wired to absorb twelve million or eighteen million or twenty-five million bits of information... For a person who is not a mathematician, epidemiologist, demographer, geographer, social scientist, medical anthropologist, or economist- for a person, say, who barely knows anyone with one of those jobs... numbers with so many zeros are hard to fathom.... Who was going to raise twelve million children?"  (There is no Me Without You, Melissa Fay Greene).

The Lord calls Himself Father to the fatherless.  He has compassion on the orphan, the widow, and the alien.  God can use any means possible to accomplish His will.  He raised up Pharoah and hardened his heart to display His might and glory.  God doesn't need me or my prayers to extend compassion to the fatherless.  I just want to be part of it, don't you?

I've also been praying for the orphans with Down syndrome listed on Reece's Rainbow.  Anyway, I've been very hungry and discouraged by the sheer magnitude of what I'm asking the Lord to do.  So I know I was meant to read this today.

"Thus says the Lord:  'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.  For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited.  Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.  For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its root by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.'"  Jeremiah 17:5-8

I can't even go a day without food.  What a humiliating reminder of just how weak I am.  I can do nothing good apart from the Spirit of God.  The good news is when God's people trust and hope in Him, He makes us fruitful- even when we're stuck in one of life's droughts.  Notice He may not bring rain, but He enables us to bloom in the midst of the drought.  Only God can do that!  Nothing is impossible for God!  Not even caring for the millions of orphans in Africa and the thousands of precious DS orphans of the world.

I'm so grateful I read that Scripture today!  Please join me in praying that God's Word will reach the orphans of the world and that His church will be obedient to show compassion to the fatherless.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The power to... obey?

One of the great things about being in Christ through faith is having access to God's power.  Think about it.  The God who made the heavens and earth, who sustains our lives, who holds the heart of the king in His hands, who resurrected Christ from the dead,we're talking about this God.  As believers, indwelt by the Spirit of God, we have access to the great and glorious power of the omniopotent God of the universe!  Wow!

I don't know about you, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I ponder access to this kind of power is to think of all my friends and loved ones in need of physical healing.  God's power is certainly able to heal.  If God's power were like a genie in a bottle, granting me three wishes, my next wish would be to end world hunger.  Next I would bring world peace. (Do I sound like a beauty contestant?)   Most of us probably think about these visible realities around us in need of fixing.  We want to bring God's power to bear on these terrible problems, thus creating utopia.  Paul helps me to see a different purpose in God's power.

Paul prays that the Christians in Colosse will be "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;"  Colossians 1:11

I don't know exactly what difficult circumstances the Colossians were facing, but I find it telling that Paul doesn't ask God to remove those circumstances from them or to solve their problems.  Instead, Paul prays that God will strengthen these believers with all might, the kind of might only available according to God's glorious power.  But what is the purpose of this outpouring of power?  Are we going to see great signs and wonders to evidence the Colossians faith?  No.  Paul asks God to give them the power to be patient.  They need the power to endure whatever trial they're going through with longsuffering and get this, joy.  The power to be patient and endure difficulty with joy certainly doesn't seem like a glamorous display of God's power on par with my three wishes, but let's take a closer look.

What is the opposite of patience and longsuffering?  Anxiety?  Worry?  Not trusting God?  These are sins, are they not?  And if we don't endure with joy, what's the alternative?  Grumbling against God?  Complaining? Cursing God?  Again, sin.  Could it be just this simple?  Paul is praying that God will grant the Colossians the power to obey.

Now let's think back to my three wishes:  I wanted to use God's power to heal diseases, end hunger, and bring peace to the world.  The three problems I mentioned share something in common with one another and with every other problem in the world today- the root cause is sin.  Adam's sin brought about a curse on this world.  Disease and hunger are but two manifestations of the curse.  And peace?  There is no peace apart from Christ.  Our sin created a great gulf between us and our holy God.  Only Christ's atoning sacrifice is sufficient to bridge that gulf and bring us peace with God.

The problem is sin.  The solution is obedience.  Only Christ lived a perfectly obedient life, even to the point of receiving the wrath of God poured out on our sins, which He bore for us. 

We all begin our lives enslaved to sin.  When God saves us and places us in Christ, He delivers us from the power of darkness and conveys us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13)  So, in Christ we are no longer controlled by the power of darkness.  We are no longer slaves to sin.  In Christ, we have the power to obey.  And while our personal obedience may not affect our outward circumstances, it is the answer.  When we walk in obedience we fulfill our destiny.  When we obey the Lord, we act like His people who are in Christ.  It may not seem glamorous, but obedience to God takes supernatural power that only He can provide.  May we be faithful to pray this for ourselves, our families, and our churches.  May God grant us the power through Christ to obey Him. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The important role of knowledge in sanctification

Somewhere along the way the church abandoned knowledge. Maybe it was after Darwin's theory of natural selection gained such popularity that the church began to see science as its enemy and knowledge by extension. Just walk the aisles of any Christian bookstore and read the titles. Books that feed our emotions sell a lot better than books that feed our minds.

Spirituality is considered by many to be dependent upon our subjective determination of how close we feel to Christ. (This obsession with feelings has also plagued other of our relationships with marriage topping the list.) Does our relationship with Christ have anything to do with feelings, His or ours? Is our holiness based on how close we feel to the Lord? Even our worship, which is supposed to be about pleasing God, is usually evaluated by how it makes us feel.

I've been memorizing Colossians this year, just two verses per week, and have been meditating on Paul's prayer for the church in Colosse. Here's what Paul says about sanctification and notice there's no mention of feelings anywhere.

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God..." Colossians 1:9-10 (emphasis mine)

According to Paul, our sanctification begins and ends with knowledge. It starts with the knowledge of God's will. So many believers want to know God's will for their lives, but they aren't willing to search for it in His Word. The knowledge of God's will is revealed in His Word. How can we be obedient to that of which we are ignorant? So, our spiritual growth must begin with knowledge of God's will.

This knowledge is not knowledge for knowledge sake though. It has a purpose- "... that you may walk worthy of the Lord." Have you heard it said that right thinking leads to right living? Right thinking could certainly end there in cold indifference, but right living must begin with right thinking. Obedience begins in the mind! Then get this, our fruitful good works that were made possible by learning God's will, cause a further increase in the knowledge of God! (v. 10)

Each round of sanctification begins and ends with knowledge of God. It's as if an onion is being peeled back, layer by layer, knowledge by knowledge, with spiritual growth ("being fruitful") sandwiched in between.

God made our emotions and when bridled they can be used for God's glory, but it doesn't appear that they play much of a role in spirituality at all.

What a great prayer- that we would be filled with the knowledge of God's will, that we would walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God! I'm loving Colossians!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

In case you were wondering, she's still at it.

I haven't posted about Queen's adventures lately, but she hasn't slowed down one bit.  Just a few minutes ago I found her with my wallet.  I recovered $60 and my credit card fairly quickly, but it took me awhile to find my debit card.  I was starting to sweat a little.

I only catch her on camera one time out of ten, but here are a couple of recent shots for laughs.

By the time I realized Queen was upstairs unattended, she had already gotten into the
"permanent" ink I bought for our domino ornaments.

Doesn't that pose crack you up?  Measle Bug has got to learn to keep up with her ipod!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Are there baby steps to becoming RADICAL?

The book Radical:  Taking Back your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt has really had me thinking and praying and talking with Big D.  I'm taking the one year challenge, but wondering if there might be baby steps to becoming radical.  Is that an oxymoron?  I mean, are radical and babysteps mutually exclusive?  My first reaction to the book was- we have to sell our big, beautiful house and buy a smaller, more practical one and give the difference.  Well, Big D has been in favor of down-sizing for some time now, but this all seemed a bit sudden to him.  I tend to obsess and want to act NOW, whereas he tends to count the cost when it comes to major decisions like this.  You see he's the one who will have to get the house ready to sell (think baseboards, tile projects, painting, etc.).  And we still have our Christmas lights up : ).  So yesterday Big D said, "Let's start with getting rid of cable."  I'm happy to report that as of today we no longer have a cable box or DVR.  We're saving a little over $60 a month (our cable was bundled with phone and high speed internet so we're actually paying a bit more for those now that we ditched the cable.)  Quickly, before I had a chance to spend the savings on mochas and frappes (another issue entirely) I went online to Rafiki foundation and found two children we could sponsor on a monthly basis.  I just love Rafiki.  They're dedicated not only to clothing and feeding children in 9 countries in Africa, but to giving them a steady diet of the Word of God.  Rafiki began as the missions branch of Bible Study Fellowship, International.  Wonderful Bible study materials have been written for these children for pre-K through high school.  We've helped support a missionary couple at Rafiki Village, Kenya for years, but this is our first time to help with child sponsorship through them.  I'm so excited!

Ok, I know this wasn't exactly sacrifical giving, (Big D is the one being inconvenienced since he likes to watch Fox news), but a baby step in the right direction, right?  Now, if only I'd get a handle on our Starbucks spending...  I'll save that for another post.

Seriously, though.  Can radical be attained one babystep at a time or does that defeat the whole point of being radical?  Of course, I don't really care about being radical so much as being obedient.  Does it take being radical to be obedient to the call of Christ?  It must seem radical to the lost world, anyway.

I've taken a few other baby steps like taking some baby clothes to our local crisis pregnancy center and some books to a local nursing home/rehab center.  And sending a small diaper donation to Bottom Blessings- a really cool ministry.  Hey, I told you these were just baby steps!  I know most of you have already been doing all these things.  Maybe that's why the Lord had me read this book at this time.  I needed a shove outside of myself and my family.  I need to set aside more time for others. 

Have you read the book Radical?  Anyone taking the one year challenge?

By the way, the kids and I are loving praying for the world.  We prayed for the Church in Albania today.  (And two of my kids now know how to locate Albania on a map of the world.)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I play, you play, we all play with dough!

The kids and I had fun making red hot cinnamon playdough on Saturday thanks to Kathi of A Heart Like Water giving me the idea and recipe.  Twinkle Toes decided afterwards that she'd try her hand at making playdough and made some purple all by herself.  Now I can honestly say it's so easy my 9 yr old can make it!

The girls and I have talked and talked about making bagels, but I've been afraid that it sounded too complicated for me.  Today we took the plunge, with the help of my bread machine, and it was almost as easy as making playdough.  I'm going to make a second batch tonight.  Yes, the first batch is pretty much gone.

Twinkle Toes, the chef.

The chef with her sous-chef.  By the way, check out the adorable aprons my grandmother made for the girls. 
She also made matching aprons for their American Girl dolls.

What's left of our bagels after Monk, Twinkle Toes, and Measle headed out the door with hands and mouths full of bagel.  Twinkle Toes insisted on adding cinnamon sugar topping to half of them.

She likes.

Prince and Queen were inspired by my bagel making to roll out some of their own using their red hot cinnamon playdough.

Calvin didn't eat a bagel, but he has been enjoying Daddy's homegrown butternut squash, and Mommy's homemade applesauce.  He's almost 4 months old and weighs 18 lbs and is 18.25 in long!  I bet he'll be eating bagels before long!

Here's the bagel recipe I used from The Bread Machine Cookbook by Donna Rathmell German.

1 c water
1.5 tbs honey
1 tsp salt
1 c whole wheat flour
2 c bread flour
1.5 tsp yeast

Let the bread machine knead the dough on the dough cycle, but only let rise 20 min in the machine.  Divide dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a rope, pressing ends together to make a circle.  Let rise on greased cookie sheet 15-20 min only.  Boil in 2 in of water in a non-aluminum pan 30 sec on each side then place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 550 for 8 min.  (My oven only goes to 500 and they were plenty cooked.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Prince Charming with his girls

Prince (4) is quite the ladies man.  Here he is with two of his
absolute favorite girls.  They're his church buddies and he adores them! 
It made his day getting to go bowling with them Saturday. 

Can you see the love?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Redemption in the book of Job

I've been loving reading Job the last couple of days.  Each time I read it, I appreciate something new about the book.  Last time through the 90 day Bible challenge I had a good friend suffering through the trial of a very sick child who went to heaven shortly thereafter.  Naturally I was focused on how NOT to comfort your suffering friend.  This time I've seen so many messianic and redemptive passages.  You don't think of Job as being a book about redemption, but it is.  Losing everything in this life, is what makes us the most desperate for salvation and the hope of heaven.

If a man dies, shall he live again?  All the days of my service I would wait, till my renewal should come.  You would call, and I would answer You; You would long for the work of Your hands.  For then You would number my steps; You would not keep watch over my sin; my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and You would cover over my iniquity.  Job 14:14-17

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.  My heart faints within me!  Job 19:25-27

I love that thought of my sins being sealed up in a bag and covered up.  Job was looking forward in time to the salvation that God would bring.  We're able to look back and see that Christ accomplished this for those who believe.  His blood covers our sins- once for all!  Job yearned for it.  We can praise God for it!

And have you ever noticed that allusion to a bodily resurrection in the book of Job?  I used to think that was New Testament stuff.  Nope.  One God.  One redemptive plan from the beginning of time.  Amazing.

What are you learning through the 90 day Bible challenge?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Before and after Calvin's first haircut

Today was the day.  Calvin's first haircut- at 3 mos 3 weeks old.  Big D threatened to go after him with the clippers if I didn't do something about his shaggy locks.  He said I would love it and he was right.  I really do!  He's even more handsome than before!

He's not smiling about his haricut, though.  I gave him some butternut squash from Big D's garden and he kept kicking his legs with glee.  I've never seen him smile so much.  I guess I've been starving him!  Now the growth spurt begins : ).


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.